Offblast! Take-Two buy Kerbal Space Program

Take-Two Interactive Software, the owners of 2K Games and studios including Firaxis and Rockstar, have bought Kerbal Space Program [official site]. Unlike when Microsoft bought Minecraft gang Mojang, Take-Two are only buying the game and not the studio who make it, Squad. However, Squad will continue to work on the splendid spaceship-building sandbox game and its upcoming expansion. This acquisition is announced barely a week after Valve confirmed that several former KSP developers had joined them for something mysterious. Interesting times.

KSP should continue largely as before, Squad said today:

“The important thing to know is that this big news doesn’t change much for the KSP community. Squad and the current development team is still here and we’re hard at work on KSP and its future updates, but now we are fortunate enough to do so with the help of an experienced publisher like Take-Two, and we couldn’t be more excited and happy to see where our conjoint collaboration will take KSP forward.”

The promise of free DLC for folks who bought KSP early enough will stand, Squad say.

The rumour mill has whispered of problems at Squad for a while. One former member complained about low wages and long hours in May 2016, while another didn’t seem best pleased about the crunch time either. Then in October, eight core members quit. According to rumour, they were the bulk of the dev team and they quit because of management issues and poor working conditions. All of this is a little hazy, so don’t take it as stone cold fact, but it might explain why Take-Two were only interested in buying Kerbal and not the studio working on it.

So what do Take-Two want from this? Business.

“We have been impressed with Kerbal Space Program since its launch, and we are committed to grow this unique experience while continuing to support its passionate community,” Michael Worosz, Take-Two’s head of corporate development and independent publishing, said in their own business-y announcement.

“We view Kerbal Space Program as a new, long-term franchise that adds a well-respected and beloved IP to Take-Two’s portfolio as we continue to explore opportunities across the independent development landscape.”

IPs for the IP god, portfolios for the portfolio throne.

27 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    IIRC Squad is/was originally a marketing company, not a developer, so maybe this will help give KSP the speciality management expertise it needs.

    • TauPhraim says:

      The problem is KSP (probably) has a big not-so-clean codebase. Even for “experts”, doing anything in there would cost a lot of time, I don’t see this happening.

      But maybe KSP2 will be technically better !

      • communisthamster says:

        That won’t be hard, considering KSP is kludge upon kludge upon blutac upon papiermache. I love it, but I do wish it would get some clones and rivals like minecraft did.

        • modzero says:

          Eh, just like in case of Minecraft, people underestimate the value of the personality of the game. Replace Kerbals with humans and you’ll likely end up with something full of grotesque levels of pathos. Get budget Kerbals, you’ll have Constructor in space…

          …um. Yeah, I mean, it doesn’t have to not work out, but I wouldn’t bet on clones being better. There’s also tendency to underestimate the challenges inherent to KSP – and while some of these were self-inflicted (a not-too-big ship can have as many physics objects as a rather busy scene in a typical game), they’d probably be something people would now expect from any clone (i.e. components are generally real physical objects that can be hit with a badly staged booster, rather than a bunch of settings in a dialog box and maaaybe a mesh switch).

    • colw00t says:

      They still are a marketing agency. They had/have a policy that a certain amount of employee time can be spent on their own creative projects, and when Felipe Falanghe came up with a workable prototype for the game on that time, he went to management to tell them that he was leaving Squad to go make it. Squad’s management thought the game sounded cool and decided to let him develop it there. So they sort of stumbled backwards into having a game-development unit – which goes a long way to explain why the project has always been amateurishly managed.

  2. Drib says:

    Cue the people calling this the end of KSP and the ruination of all that is good and holy. Also probably paid mods and expensive DLCs and the kicking of puppies.

    I dunno how correct or incorrect this doomsaying would be.

    • ButteringSundays says:

      “Cue the people calling this the end of KSP”

      Well that would be you wouldn’t it.

      I don’t see how it could be the ‘end’ – the game has been around for years and has already been released.

      Oh to be a developer in the age of the neverending development cycle, when a game is only finished when the developer has been driven insane.

      • Cvnk says:

        I was thinking about this the other day after seeing a snarky update by the devs behind Forest Village suggesting that Banished, the game they basically cloned, was abandoned by its developer. Then looking at the FV discussions on Steam I saw that a lot of FV fans were leveling the same charge because there hasn’t been a significant update to Banished in several years. But that’s because Shining Rock finished it and has moved on.

        You can say what you want about the game’s feature set being rather thin but I don’t think he left a long to-do list of unfinished features and unresolved bugs.

        It kind of soured me on the idea of picking up FV.

        It’s like people expect every developer to be another Toady or Sami, dedicating their lives to a single game.

      • Shadow says:

        Yeah, at some point the team has to call it complete and move on. KSP was released a while ago and it’s already received three major content patches, so I suppose it can only be good to get an influx of funds and resources from a new publisher, when the alternative was probably calling it quits sooner than later.

  3. demicanadian says:

    I doubt it will happen to KSP, but I guess if KSP2 ever happens, it’ll take 2 paid expansion packs and 5 dlc packs to get where KSP1 is now.

  4. Cross says:

    Looking forward to “Kerbal Space Force”.

  5. Solidstate89 says:

    I’m confused. How do you purchase a game but not the studio behind it, if the studio will still be working on the game? Do they own the publishing rights now, or do they own the IP/game and are paying Squad to continue working on the development?

    • number2301 says:

      It looks like they’ve bought the IP and are paying them to carry on working on it. Squad aren’t really a developer. They’re a marketing company who employ some devs.

      • ButteringSundays says:

        That does seem like an odd arrangement though – buy the rights to a game after everyone has bought it?

        • Jason Lefkowitz says:

          My assumption would be that they want to publish a Kerbal Space Program 2 (or similar related products) and actually market it under the KSP name, rather than having to build a whole new brand for it from scratch. Owning the KSP IP would let them do that. And Squad wouldn’t have to be involved; they can be fired/replaced if Take-Two decides they don’t like their work, and new projects could be created using the KSP name and farmed out to other studios without reference to Squad at all. Take-Two becomes the final arbiter of what is and what isn’t officially a KSP product.

          In other words, if the arrangement really is as it’s described, Squad are now essentially contract developers working on KSP for hire. This doesn’t seem like a great outcome from Squad’s perspective, but given the other problems they’ve been having it may have been the least bad of a set of bad alternatives.

        • Zenicetus says:

          I don’t think “everyone has already bought it.” It’s more like a flight sim (FSX, for example), where new people discover it all the time, and buy into it. There should still be a trickle of sales as long as it’s the only thing like it on the market.

          That must have factored into a decent payout for Squad.

      • thenevernow says:

        Not just the IP, the code as well.

    • Marclev says:

      I guess you own the IP and outsource the development to the independent studio after having negotiated mutually agreeable contract terms.

  6. ButteringSundays says:

    Strange.

    If someone wanted to make KSP2 there’s not much stopping them – and they could do it without all the futz and special indie touches.

    I love KSP but it’s not for the little green people and the off-brand planet names.

  7. Unsheep says:

    I think it’s a case of a studio getting rid of an IP before the shit hits the fan.

  8. thenevernow says:

    It all goes nicely with their concerns about getting filthy rich in Mexico: link to reddit.com

  9. allthingslive says:

    Hmmm. Whatever this means I hope KSP sees continued development by most of its original creators.

  10. CrunK says:

    “IPs for the IP god, portfolios for the portfolio throne.”
    This just made my day. I even created an acc to let you know that.

    • itsbenderingtime says:

      I need to follow your lead. Alice drops jewels like that all the time, and I’ve never logged in to give her props for it.

      So hey Alice! Thanks for using your wonderful wit to make me smile, even on soul-sucking stuff like business news. You’re the best!

  11. Cinek says:

    All of this is a little hazy, so don’t take it as stone cold fact

    Huh? How is that a little hazy? It was a known fact for years that Squad has an issue with managing production of KSP and underpaying its employees. The only new thing that came out from that en masse quitting was that Squad bosses are wasting money on their personal shitty pet projects while the game development and employees suffer.

    Let’s not pretend like there’s any open window where Squad is a great company and everything we see said about it is just unfair badmouthing.

  12. Scumbag says:

    Is that a Zlad reference?